During difficult times, families can be our greatest resource, or our heaviest burden. This book brings together research from a wide variety of disciplines to examine family interaction in the context of stressful situations. Instead of claiming that one type of interaction is better than other, seemingly unproductive forms of communication, the approach taken by the author recognizes that messages can have varying, sometimes unexpected consequences when a family is distressed. In addition to introducing students, scholars, and practitioners to the stress and coping literatures from both the individual and family perspectives, the book offers an in-depth examination of how relational communication scholars have contributed to this important and rich body of research. The book also explores family stress and coping within three specific contexts (military family separation, breast cancer, the transition to parenthood) and provides readers with the opportunity to apply their knowledge through case studies and examples from families who have lived through these difficult situations.